The North Carolina legislature recently passed a bill that would allow magistrates to refuse to perform same-sex weddings even though they are legal in that state, but Gov. Pat McCrory says he’s going to veto it because government officials cannot discriminate in the services they provide to the public.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday afternoon that he’ll veto a bill to allow magistrates to opt out of performing marriage if they have a religious objection.
The governor’s announcement came just hours after the N.C. House approved it in a 67-43 final vote Thursday.
“I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” McCrory said in a news release.
“However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”
Senate Bill 2 would allow magistrates and register of deeds employees to be exempt from performing weddings if they have a religious objection. Opponents of the measure say it would allow discrimination against same-sex couples, though workers seeking the exemption couldn’t perform any type of wedding for at least a six-month period.
The courts would have struck it down anyway, but it’s nice to see an elected official take a stand for equality. Government officials cannot decide to provide a legal service to one group that is eligible but not another. A Christian judge cannot refuse to perform a same-sex wedding because of their religious beliefs any more than a Muslim clerk could refuse to issue a driver’s license to a woman for the same reason.